Kokuga's arrival on the 3DS eShop this Summer was certainly welcomed by shoot-em-‘up fans, especially as Hiroshi Iuchi's name was on the project. As was made clear to us in our interview with G.rev CEO Hiroyuki Maruyama, however, the market for these titles is smaller than it perhaps was in the past; he explained that "the decline of the shooter is largely related to the diminishing demand for traditional game-like games", and that it was a release for "consumers that still demand" these kinds of experiences.
Maruyama-san has been addressing this concern once again, talking to Siliconera about the challenges in the Japanese market.
Yes, the current shooting market in Japan is at a very difficult crossroads. I am certain that the genre will not fade away at the dojin level, but in terms of an incorporated studio, to put it bluntly – you are not able to make a living on just making shooters.
With that in mind, you can say that we made Kokuga to target a more general audience. Since you can play with up to four people with only one copy of the game, we hope that established shmup fans will use the game to promote the genre to new gamers.
If the genre is struggling in Japan, it perhaps faces greater challenges still in the West, though it could be argued that shmup games have enjoyed significant popularity on consoles outside of Japan in past generations — but is it enough for these games to be profitable? EnjoyUp Games clearly thinks so, recently announcing Project Aguraki for the Wii U eShop.
Did you pick up Kokuga, and do you still like to buy and play shoot-em-‘up games? Let us know in the comments below.